Friends tell me I am one of those exasperating people who believe if I find someone or something interesting it’s inevitable, they should share this interest. Not so. I’m discovering that, in general, we need a common denominator to grab our attention - shared pain, mutual mission, potential united joy. It must be personal.
This week I am REreading Tom Brokaw’s book, A Lucky Life Interrupted, subtitled ‘A Memoir of Hope.’ Brokaw shares stories from his lucky life. He talks, in depth, about his diagnosis, treatment, and living with multiple myeloma. When I read the book in 2015, I found it a good read but remembered nothing I had read. It did not grab me emotionally, or as something that affected me.
Six years later I spend longer on each page. Now, when I read of his treatments, I see faces of friends and family. I pause, admire their courage, and wish I had understood better what they were going through.
Brokaw talks of the need for a Pathfinder when we are faced with confusion and challenges. Not just, he says, during MM or other serious medical issues, but in everyday life. He likens this to the Pathfinders of WWII Airborne troops who, on D-Day, jumped in early to show other troops the best path to shore.
In the book favorite memories are shared – fishing, family trips, the birth of children and grandchildren. Despite a life of global fame, and days spent interviewing the world’s most powerful people - it is the everyday moments he remembers.
Nelson Mandela is high on the list of those Brokaw admires. He says, especially now, he recalls Mandela’s words when he was released after 25 years in prison: The Mind cannot be shackled. Absence of self-pity. Let’s talk of the future, not the cruelties of the past.
Before MM came to call, Brokaw’s eldest daughter asked, “Dad, we’ve never really had anything go wrong in our family. I wonder if we could handle it.” They’ve answered that question with a positive yes. They’ve proved that even the strongest fighters need someone in their corner. And, that some interruptions are reminders that what we do today become the memories we store for tomorrow.